Ruth Fellows house, Ipswich

16 Fellows Road, the Ruth Fellows house (1714, altered beyond recognition)

The Ruth Fellows house at 16 Fellows Road in Ipswich is said to have within it a First Period home, dating to 1714. Her husband Joseph was the son of colonist William Israel Fellows (aka William Fellows) who was a planter and purchased land in Ipswich, MA 26 Mar 1639.

The following are excerpts from “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony” and “Candlewood an Ancient Neighborhood” by Thomas Franklin Waters:

In the ancient way now known as Fellows Lane Richard Saltonstall owned a forty acre ox pasture which extended to Mile Brook. Thomas Firman owned a large pasture adjoining Saltonstall’s which he sold to Thomas Low and Edward Brags in 1647. Joseph Fellows son of William began to purchase land here in 1681 and in due time acquired the Saltonstall and Firman pastures and land owned by Nathaniel Jacobs. His son Joseph greatly enlarged the farm until it included most of the land on both sides of the road.

Joseph Fellows made his home on the farm which he acquired by inheritance and purchase. He served in the King Philip war as his wages were assigned to Ipswich in 1675. He married Ruth Fraile on April 19 1675, Mrs. Ruth Fellows an ancient widow died on April 14 1729. He died before 1693. Their children were:

  • Mary born May 3 1676. Mary married John Brown Jr who died before 1764. She and her sons Joseph and Nathan sold the homestead to Benjamin.
  • Joseph
  • William
  • Abigail
  • Sarah born May 17 1685
  • Ruth who married Samuel Waite in 1717.

Generations of the Fellows line had their homes on various portions of this great domain and Alonzo B Fellows and his sisters were still in occupancy when James H. Proctor began to purchase in 1899.

FROM: Essex County Probate Records, Vol. 308, pp. 24-26.

Whereas an agreement hath been made Mar. 27, 1702, among Isaac Fellowes, Ephraim Fellowes, Ruth Fellowes, widow, and administratrix to the estate of her husband Joseph Fellowes, all of Ipswich and Samuel Ayres of Newbury attorney to Samuel Fellowes of Newbury to settle and divide the real estate of their father William Fellowes formerly of Ipswich according to his donation in his will, Isaac Fellowes, Samuell Ayres and Ruth Fellowes do by these presents quitclaim to their brother Ephraim Fellowes the land with all the buildings thereupon as now divided and set out by these bounds: southeasterly by Isaac Fellowes land, northwesterly upon Samuell Ayres land to a white oak tree marked by the common which is the bounds between said Fellowes and Ayres, northerly & easterly by the common and also eight acres more bounded northerly upon the common, easterly upon Samuell Ayres land, southerly upon the river, westerly upon Joseph Fellowes land, and also to his divisions of marsh as formerly divided and bounded out unto him with all the privileges thereunto belonging. The widow Fellowes signed to all except eight acres of land which was conveyed to her husband per Ephraim Fellowes by a deed dated Feb., 1697. Signed and sealed Mar. 30, 1702.

  • Witness: Thomas Manning, William Fellows, Jarvas Ringe. Acknowledged July 24, 1702 by Isaac Fellowes, Samuel Ayres, Ruth Fellowes.

William Fellows

Genealogists seem to agree that William Fellows descended from William Fellows of Lincolnshire England, but debate debate which of the earlier Fellows’ sons, Noble or William was the father of the Ipswich settler. His supposed middle name “Israel” is also debated. The following information is taken from “Fellows Families of Onondaga Conty New York and their Ancestry” written by Erwin Fellows and published in 1991:

“William Fellows was born most likely to Willyam Fellows of Foxton, Lincolnshire County, England around the year 1609. With a certificate from St. Albons Parish in Hertfordshire England, he sailed from London to America with his wife, Mary Ayres and his oldest son Isaac aboard the ship “Planter” on March 22, 1635. Listed as a shoemaker, William’s age was recorded as 24 years. The ships’ Captain was Nicholas Travice and their arrival in Boston was on April 11, 1635.

“William and his family settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where William was to remain his entire life. During 1639, William engaged in tending the Ipswich village herd of cows. His contract read; “to drive them out to feed before sunne be half an hour high and not bring them home before half an hour before sunset”. The contract ran from April 15th to November 15th and the pay was either in corn or money, a total of fifteen pounds. In 1640 William was associated with Mark Quilter and Simon Tompson as the Cowkeeper on the North side of the river at Ipswich. William achieved the status of “Commoner” in October 1643. The term “Commoner” refers to an arrangement between settlers, who for purposes of protection, arranged their homes next to a “Common”, consisting of land of sufficient size to mutually protect all their livestock.

“Fellows and his family became owners of considerable property in the local area. William’s name appeared on numerous real estate transactions, including 15 acres sold to John Pierpont on the Great Brook towards the north on November 15, 1649 and a farm conveyed to William on the south side of the river, bounded by the Mill Brook (Miles River) on the west, on February 07, 1658. Around the year 1660, William bought the John Andrews farm and took up residence in the ancient Candlewood neighborhood of Ipswich. Historians believe that the name “Candlewood” came from the local pine forests in the area, whose clear grain and rich pitch were use by the inhabitants to light their homes for many years.

“Residents of each community had to establish their own local defenses and were required to become members of a militia, providing for the defense of the town against Indians. Each settler had to bring his own rifle, but could draw upon town supplies of gun powder and lead for use in it’s defense. In October 1643, William and 26 other townsmen were fined for not returning their gun powder supply to the town. One year later William was listed as a subscriber to a fund for Daniel Dennison as head of the town militia of Ipswich. William was admitted to the County Court as a “Freeman” of the Colony on March 28, 1654. “Freeman status” was a social position achieved through a combination of land ownership and orthodox church membership.

“In 1666 William Fellows along with John Proctor Senior, jointly purchased a four rod lot with a house on the west corner of Green Street and the Meeting House Green. The double ownership continued during his life, but on Dec 21, 1676, Williams’ executors bought the Proctor interest from the family heirs. An active member in town affairs, Williams’ name shows up on many documents, including selection for duty on a County Court jury September 24,1667 and as a signer of a petition in March 21, 1669 for restricting tree cutting on town lands. William and Mary’s children were as follows; Isaac, Ephraim, Abigail, Elizabeth, Samuel, Sarah and Mary. Records show that William died on December 29, 1676 in Ipswich, with his Will being executed on November 27, 1677.”

It is widely circulated on the internet that he was buried at the “Parish of St. Michael,” in Ipswich, an unknown reference which is probably the Parish of St Michael’s in  Leicestershire, England, not far from where his supposed birthplace.

The last will of William Fellows November 29:1676:

I having perfit memory I commit my soull to god and my body to ye graue and bequea my earthly goods as followeth my will is yt my wif shall have one rome in my house to her self and for her uese dewring her life yt is to say ye parler and to have twelve pounds yearly paid her in merchantable pay by my three Sons /Ephram Samuel Joseph/ and likewis it is my will yt my wif should have two of my /best/ Cowes and to be kept by my sonns winter and Somer for my wifs uese and my wif shall have liberty to keep two swine and like wise my sons shall maintain her with convenient fiering winter and somer as long as she lives a widow and like wise tis my will yt my wife shall have a conveanant peice of land for a gearing and a quarter of a acker of good land yearly to sow flaxe on and it is my will yt my wif shall have all ye household goods at her dispossel tis my will yt my sonne Isack shall have my march lote at hog Iland adid to that which I have giving him already and my will is yt my other three sonns yt is Ephram Samuel and Joseph shall have ye other half of my farme and ye rest of my sault march with ye buildings and stock /and corn/ upon ye farme to be posest of it after my deseas only to fulfill to thr mother what is above menchoned and to pay all /my/ debts and legisis as foloweth tis my will yt my daughter mary shall have ten pounds paid her within two yeare after my deseas and it is my will yt my othr three daughters Elisebeth abegill Sary shall have tewenty pounds a peice one half paid them two years after my deseas ore one thr day or mariag and ye othr half two years after yt and after my debts are all paid my will is yt my daughters should be maid equale with ther three brothers Ephram Samuele Joseph only fifty pounds yt my Sonne Isack is to pay after my wifs deseas shall be devided equaly amongst my three daughters Elisebeth abigil Sary and then to be equallised with thr brothers aboue menshnd. William Fellowes Witness: William (his X mark) Story, Senear, Thomas Burnon, senier, Samuel Ingals, Seanir.

( No executor was named. Administration was granted to the three sons in Ipswich court, 27 March 1677. Probate Records of Essex County. ( published by Essex Institute, Salem 1920, vol. 3, pp. 128-129))

Notes for Mary Ayres

Mary’s ancestry is also a matter of question with many genealogists. Some think that she is the sister of Captain John Ayres of Ipswich, MA and Brookfield, MA. Research done by W. H Whitmore, ” The Ayres and Ayer Families”, in the NEGHS, 1863,17:307-310, states the following;

A John Ayres was known to have lived in Ipswich in 1648 and 1672. In 1661 he and William Fellows jointly petitioned the county clerk on behalf of the minor children of Sarah, who was described as “our sister.” Sarah had been married to William Lampson, who died Feb 1, 1658. She then wanted to marry Thomas Hartshorne, this being opposed by the petitioners, “her brothers.”

This is taken to mean that John Ayres was a true brother of Sarah and that William was married to the sister of Sarah and John Ayres. Thus the maiden name of Ayres for Mary.

More information from Roots Web:

“He was a husbandman by occupation and slowly added other parcels to his first land purchase. In 1654 he was a freeman of the colony, an honor conferred only on dependable colonists of good standing and correct puritan principles. In 1676 he died, leaving a large family and an estate amassed by steady thrift and industry.”

“Descendants of William through his oldest son Isaac, claim Isaac was born in England. They say Isaac Fellows died 06 April 1721 at the age of 86. We are not positive of the name of William’s wife. Most genealogists seem in accord and say William married Mary Ayes, sister of Capt. John Ayres of Ipswich and Brookfield, MA. If William Fellows arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 his history is unknown until 1639. In probate records of Essex County, MA, Vol. I. P. I 1, the condensed record reads: The General Court held at Boston 13:1: 1638-9 ordered the Court at Ipswich to examine and settle all things belonging to the estate of Humphrey Wisse including the land, sold and unsold. The Court held at Ipswich 26-1-1639, appointed Samuel Greenfield Administrator of the Wisse estate and with his consent sold the house and house lot of one acre and a planting lot of six acres “x appurtenances,” to William Fellows for twenty pounds.

“Thus in another man’s will we get the information on Williams Fellows establishing a home in Ipswich in 1639. We now have William and his wife Mary and probably young Isaac in their new home on the south side of the Ipswich River.The first direct record of William Fellows is as one of the towns cowherds. He had a contract (Sep, 1639) to keep the herd of cows on the south side of the river from the 20 of April to the 20 of November. He was bound by his contract to drive them out to feed before the sun was one haft hour high and not to bring them home before one half hour before sunset. He was also required to drive the cattle, “coming over the river back over the river at night”, and to take charge of them “as soon as they come over the river in the morning “. He was liable for any harm coming to the herd and was to receive 12 pence for each cow before he took them and a shilling four pence fourteen days after mid-summer. The rest of the monies at the end of the term in corn or money, a total of 15 pounds.

“In 1640 he was associated with Mark Quilter and Symon Thompson as the crowkeepers on the north side of the river. It is unlikely the elders of the colony would have trusted a newcomer or stranger to this important task. William was probably well known to the colony governing body and had likely been a resident for some time before getting such an important contract.” The last day of the month of 1641″ is the date on which was made a list of all the settlers who were “commoners “. Williams name is sixty-third on the list. In Oct, 1643 “The towne” ordered all men to return their supply of powder or pay a forfeit. William Fellows was one of twenty-six who failed to make their returns. He paid a fine of one pound. The amounts ran from 1/2 pound to two pounds. In 1647, “at a town meeting of Freemen” it was voted that three men, Mr. George Hadley, William Fellows, “The Captaynes Farme” and Mr. Epps should be excused from the work on the common highway, provided they mended the ways between the meadow by Mr. Wade’s 6 acre lot, and also the bridge over the creek by Mr. Symonds’s house. This seems to show a long term relationship with Richard Saltonstall as he was associated with Capt. Saltonstall at the time of probate of his estate.

“Probate records from 1659 show William Fellows to he a tenant of Richard Saltonstall. William and his son were lease holders on 15 acres of meadow near the land of Deputy Governor Symonds. At a Town Meeting on 19 Dec 1648, William Fellows, was a subscriber to Major Dennison as leader of the train band for the amount of three shillings. (this apparently being monies for training and maintaining the militia.William Fellows received 8 shillings for bounty for four foxes killed at a monthly meeting on 22 of 10 m 1648. Of the twenty men listed Fellows received the most.

Hammett’s “Early Inhabitants of Ipswich” has a record for the year of 1649–“John Pierpont purchased of William Fellows 15 Nov 1649, fifteen acres of land butting upon land of Thomas Howlett on the west, upon Great Brook toward the north. From antique records–“William Fellows was allowed 9 shillings for his horse two journeys 18:11:1650.”On Mar 25 1651 he was a jury man at court in Salem. Aug 26, 1653, he was one of six men summoned as witnesses in a prosecution. In Vol. 3, N. E. Gen. Reg., P. 91 there is a list of those taking Freeman’s oath Jun2, 1641. Among the names is one Willi FF ….. ” which is possibly a partial record of William Fellows. However, recorded “in Court held at lpswich, 28 Mar 14, voted five men of Ipswich to be freemen–Thomas Burnham, Will: Fellows, Aron Pengry, John Ayres, and John West.”

“It seems strange that William Fellows had not been a Freeman before this date: It may he that he was not a church member. Not one record points to misconduct or moral turpitude. On Mar 28, 1656 he was a member of the jury at the same session another of the twelve men was John Rumble of Rowley, the immigrant ancestor of the famous Trumbull men of later years, and related through Leab Huxley who married Joseph Fellows Sr. Another record for this same year, found in antique records of Essex–“The selectmen assessed William Fellows half a Spinner.” The compiler of the book gives the value of a spinner to be 45 pounds, which seems a rather high assessment.

“On July 26, 1657, Sarah, the youngest child of William and Mary Fellows was born. She is the only one of eight children whose birth has been recorded in town books.In 1666 with John Proctor Sr., he bought a four rod lot with a house on the west corner of Green Street and the Meeting House Green. The double ownership continued during his life, but on 21 Dec 1676, his executors bought the Proctor interest from the Proctor heirs. His widow survived William and at his death five of his children were living.In 1659 William bought the John Andrews farm. He also leased the Saltonstall farm. The road running along these properties is known as ” Fellows Lane ” yet today.”


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